Stabroek News: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 January 2021
Etta Isatu Findlay was on her way to earning a medical degree from the Carlos J. Finlay University of Medical Sciences. She said that she left her homeland of Sierra Leone in West Africa, and was receiving medical training at the Cuban university.
Etta, age 27 at the time, was within touching distance of completing her studies when she met a Jamaican, who she thought was her knight in shining armour. She started her programme in 1991, and in year five of her studies she met her Prince Charming. The lovestruck Etta decided to leave Cuba and head to Jamaica with him, where they got married in 1999.
That decision to leave Cuba before completing her degree is one that Etta, now 52, has come to rue.
“To say regret is too simple a term, it is more than that. To me, it has changed my whole existence. This is a concentration of untold sadness,” Etta said.
Since moving to Jamaica, Etta’s life has taken many twists and turns. Her marriage ended in divorce; she is, for the most part, penniless; and she now lives in a church building at Waterloo district, Ewarton, St Catherine.
“I was in my fifth year doing general integrated medicine, but I met and fell in love with this Jamaican, who became my husband. We lived in St Ann until 2004, when I had to leave the house,” Findlay said.
“This is where I have been for sometime now. And while I am thankful for the mercy, I really need assistance to go back home,” Etta, who has one daughter, told THE WEEKEND STAR as she stood at the doorway to the humble church room.
HANDS OF MERCY
“Things got very difficult and I am here since January 25, 2017,” said Etta, who moved to Waterloo where she gained employment as a caregiver. “Honestly, it is hands of mercy that keep me. Things need to change, and I believe in myself; I just need some help.”
She told THE WEEKEND STAR that she is the second of 12 children for her parents, and was in touch with relatives in the West Africa country up to four years ago. She has thought about returning to Sierra Leone, but believes the cost is simply prohibitive. In any event, she calls Jamaica home.
“This is where I call home; therefore, if I am able to get sustainable employment, I am willing to work also to help my situation,” she said, adding that she can work in medical facilities or care centres.
Etta, in 2008, earned a medical office assistant diploma from Penn Foster Career School, after doing an online programme with the school, which is licensed by the Arizona State Board in the USA.
Pastor Marlene Martin, who heads Faith Community Churches of Jamaica, said she found out about Etta’s situation when the church, which was closed for a while, was reopened in August.
“I came and saw her, and find her to be quite mannerly. She is willing to work, but the COVID-19 pandemic curtails everything, therefore she needs help,” Martin said.
Etta currently depends on the goodwill of persons to survive, and occasionally earns her bread by performing odd jobs.
“I am aware of a person who would assist with a piece of land, but she needs and deserves help. She has no family or roots here, so it compounds the problem, and it’s very bad,” Martin said.
Etta Isatu Findlay may be contacted via telephone at 876- 224-9047.